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Breaking Down The Best Pictures —War Horse

by Kelly Keenan | University of Notre Dame

F Posted in: Sports and Culture P Posted on: February 23, 2012
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ABOUT THE SERIES — With the the Oscars less than one week away, we at NextGen are helping you prepare. Watch the Best Picture nominees you haven’t seen along with us as we review each one in the two weeks leading up to the Academy Awards. The 2012 Best Picture nominees include: The Help, The DescendantsMidnight in Paris, The Artist, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Hugo, Moneyball, The Tree of Life and War Horse.

Every once in a while I go to see a movie that has a profound effect on me. It’s more than tearing up at “The Notebook” or feeling nervous during some scary thriller. This year’s Academy Award’s Best Picture Nominee, “War Horse,”  is one of those intense movies that could make any audience feel a plethora of emotions during their two and a half hour watching experience.

I walked into the theater knowing nothing about “War Horse” except that it involved a horse, a young man and a war in some way. I walked out having had a history and geography lesson of World War I Europe. “War Horse” tells the story of a young man and the horse that he raises, and their separate journeys through the war that is destroying Europe. Joey is a magnificent young horse taken from his owner and transferred hand to hand, country to country, army to army throughout the course of the war. In a way “War Horse” is a love story. Just about any humane person would easily fall in love with the beautiful and vibrant horse and this is exactly what happens. Every one who comes in contact with the animal seems to fall in love with him.

The film begins with Joey being trained as a workhorse by Albert. When he no longer can afford to keep him, Albert’s father sells Joey to the British army. He then comes under the command of a loving and devoted British general. After a somewhat gory battle, Joey changes hands and is taken by the German army. He is lucky to escape the war for a short time, when a young French girl finds and takes care of Joey. Soon, however, he is again found by German troops and taken back into their hands. In one of the most touching scenes of the movie, a German soldier allows Joey to run from the army. He runs through terrifying war destruction until he becomes stuck in a jumble of barbed wire. In this scene, a British and a German soldier come together to patiently free Joey from the wire. The British soldier wins in a coin flip to determine who will take possession of Joey. At this point, Albert has joined the British army and in a twist of events, the film manages to surprise and delight audiences.

The costumes, scenery, music, and fabulous, yet mostly unknown actors that create this heartwarming story are truly unbelievable. In one way or another, the audience feels for each character, from Albert Narracott, Joey’s original owner to the young German soldiers who want nothing more than to protect Joey and to escape the war. Though the relationship between the characters is quite moving, the friendship that develops between Joey and another ‘war horse’ might be the most extraordinary. Joey encounters this other horse as soon as he is brought into the story and the two remain together as they continually change hands.

“War Horse” has been a hit on Broadway for a few years now. I have not had the chance to see the play, but as far as film adaptations of plays go, I am quite confident that “War Horse” will not disappoint. It is an incredibly powerful, moving story of love and beauty in the face of destruction.

Kelly Keenan Kelly Keenan Kelly Keenan is a junior at the University of Notre Dame, where she is studying Marketing and English.

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